I spent 4 days in Dublin in July 2015. In this blog post, I am going to give you an overview of the city, and provide some travel tips for culture, attractions, food, nightlife and more based off my experiences:
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!
I love Dublin.
Given the fact that Guinness is my favorite beer in the world, I was thrilled to visit the land where it’s brewed. And if you’re a stout beer lover like myself, then this is just one of the many reasons that you’ll fall in love with Dublin. It looked like there were more pubs than people in Dublin.
From my first impression of Dublin, I was quite surprised to see how laid-back the city was (especially because I was coming from hectic London). For some reason, I imagined Dublin to be big and crowded, but it’s exactly the opposite.
Dublin has a kind of vibe that I didn’t get elsewhere in Europe. The city is small and plain — you can walk around the entire place in just a few hours. But if I’m being completely honest with you, the city is pretty ugly. However the people are very friendly, and whenever I made eye contact with someone, they smiled back and nodded at me. I liked that.
I was thrilled to see how much cheaper Dublin is than London. What a huge relief! A pint of beer was about €3-5 — about half the price you’d pay for not-so-good beer in London.
Alright, let’s dive into some quick facts:
- Currency: Euro
- Population: 1.3 million (urban)
- Dublin celebrated its ‘official’ millennium in 1988 AD, meaning that the Irish government recognized 988 AD as the year in which the city was settled and that this first settlement would later become the city of Dublin.
- The name Dublin comes from Old Irish Dublind, early Classical Irish Dubhlind, referring to a dark tidal pool where the River Poddle entered the Liffey on the site of the Castle Gardens at the rear of Dublin Castle
- The Dublin region is the economic centre of Ireland, and was at the forefront of the country’s rapid economic expansion during the Celtic Tiger period
- Dublin was established as a Viking settlement in the 10th century, and remained largely under Viking control until the Norman invasion of Ireland was launched from Wales in 1169
- The Dublin Castle, which became the centre of Norman power in Ireland, was founded in 1204 as a major defensive work on the orders of King John of England
- Dublin has more green spaces per square kilometre than any other European capital city, with 97% of city residents living within 300 metres of a park area
- Many of Dublin’s traditional industries, such as food processing, textile manufacturing, brewing, and distilling have gradually declined, although Guinness has been brewed at the St. Jame’s Gate Brewery since 1759
Culture & People
Irish people are friendly and really funny. Just don’t mix them up with being from the United Kingdom, because Ireland is a separate country and they don’t identify with the UK. They will get pissed off at you.
I loved the Irish accents. They were quite different than people from London. They pronounce the vowels a different way than we do. I can’t even explain it, but when they speak, it’s like magic to my ears.
Some lingo words that I picked up are “Craic,” which means “fun/a good time,” and “On the Lash” which means to “go out drinking.”
Dublin has always been the cultural centre of the country and one of the significant places in Europe in this aspect. It’s famous for art, literature, cinemas, theatres and cultural centers. There is a large expat community living in Ireland, so you can find influences from all over the world (restaurants, etc).
Despite Irish people not identifying with the UK, I found the culture and everyday life to be quite similar to that of London.
Dublin is also home to several big festivals and street celebrations of different kinds, including dance, film, art festivals, food and fun fairs and many, many others!
Things to Do
There are many fun things to do around Dublin. Here were some of my favorites:
– Guinness Factory – Guinness is headquartered and crafted in Dublin, and you can take a tour of the brewery! It begins with a self-guided tour, and then they teach you how to pour a perfect glass from the tap. At the end of the tour, you can claim your FREE pint of beer from the 360 rooftop bar on the 7th floor. The view from up there overlooks the city and it’s well worth a visit.
– Temple Bar – Located in the heart of the city, Temple Bar is the famous bar district of Dublin. As several locals told me, “You haven’t been to Dublin until you’ve been to Temple Bar.” Head over there on any given night to see street performers, crowded pubs and pints of fresh Guinness flowing from everyone’s glass. You’ll love it.
– Listen to Trad Music – Traditional Irish Music cannot be missed during your visit to Dublin. There are select pubs and areas around town where you can hear it. Common instruments are banjos, flutes, acoustic guitars, violins, accordions and bongos.
– Jameson Tour – Guinness’s cousin, Jameson whisky, is also native to Dublin. You can take a tour of the place as well and I heard it’s worth it. I didn’t get a chance to do it, but you should make it happen!
– Day Trips – There are many awesome places to visit outside of Dublin. I visited the small cities of Kilkenny and Gladlaouch for just $20 for the day. The Irish countryside is SO green and so beautiful that it’s mesmerizing. Many people visit the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast near Gallway (another nice city).
Irish food was nothing special.
Actually, I still don’t really know exactly what “Irish food” consists of. I think it’s something like sausages and beans and stew and burgers, but I’m not exactly sure.
Most of the food that I ate was pub food, which makes sense because there are more pubs than restaurants in the city. Pub food is generally the same as you’d find in any American city.
For pubs and beer drinking (specifically), Dublin may be the best party city in the world.
As mentioned before, the best area to go out is called Temple Bar. It’s an entire district lined up with pubs, outdoor street musicians and restaurants. There is also an original “temple bar” venue that is a really fun place, but it’s quite touristy and expensive, so I’d recommend to bar hop around the area.
In many bars, you will see live Trad music being played, just like you see in this photo!
I went to the temple bar district every night and had a fun time. Promise me that if you do anything in Dublin, you will go to Temple Bar (and send me a pic of you drinking a Guinness there.)
There are a few clubs in Dublin, but I didn’t bother to check them out. Dublin is not a city to go clubbing in — just hit up the Irish pubs all night long!
Where to Stay?
I had a wonderful stay at a hostel called Ashfield. It’s centrally located, affordable, clean and it has a nice staff. I recommend a stay with them when you visit Dublin!
Here are some photos of the hostel below. And you can check out their website for more information and bookings.
I truly enjoyed Dublin, and I hope you will as well! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns 🙂